« AnteriorContinuar »
they plenteously bringing forth the Fruit of good Works, may of him be plenteously rewarded. To which end,
The Epistle begins with a Prediction of him in these words ; Behold! the Days come (faith the Lord) that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch, &c.
The word Ecce, Behold, in the front of them, is never used but to usher in some matter of great weight and importance, and evermore denotes the Dignity and feening Difficulty of what comes after it ; which is therefore to be receiv'd with the greater Attention and Veneration, as this most especially is. In the following words we have,
First, A Promise of the Messiah, together with the Stock from which he was to descend: The Days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch.
Secondly, We have a Description of his Person and Go vernment: He i all reign as a King and prosper, and Mall execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth.
Thirdly, The Benefit and Security that should then ac. crue to his People : In his days Judah Mall be saved, and Ifrael ball dwell safely.
Lastly, The Name whereby be should be call d ; and that is, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Of each of these briefly. And,
First, or the Promise of the Messias, together with the Lineage or Stock from whence he descended : Behold! the Days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch. Where by the Days Mall come, we are to understand the latter Days, or the last Age of the World, call'd in Scripture the last Days, or the latter Times ; which were the Days or Age of the Meslias, into which we are fallen. St. Peter speaking of him, faith, He was manifefted in the laft days, 1 Pet. 1. 5. And St. John to the fame purpose, Little Children, it is the laft Time ; 1 John 2. 18.
But because some may ask with the Scoffers of old, Where is the Promise of his Coming? I fall, beside this of our Text, point out some of the Prophecies extant in the Old Teltáment concerning it. In the Prophecy of Jacob we read of Shiloh's coming, together with the Time appointed for it, which was at the Scepter's departing from Judah; Gen.49. 10. and that came to pass in the days of Herod. Mofes told the Israelites, that God would raise up a Prophet, not only like unto, but greater than be, and to him they should
hearken ; Deut. 18. 18. And Christ (as the Gospel for this Day informs us) was own'd and receiv'd as fuch." The Prophet Haggai declar'd at the building of the second Temple, that this great Prophet should come and fill that House with his Presence ; Hag. 2. 7. And the Prophet Malachi, that the Lord whom they fought would suddenly come to his Temple ; Mal. 3. 1. Both which were shortly after fulfill'd in Christ's being presented in the Temple, and there instructing his Disciples in the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.
These, and many more that might be quoted, are plain Prophecies of the Meflias, whom God by the Prophet Jeremy here promis'd to raise up for the Salvation of Man. kind.
But the Prophet here, to the Promise of his Coming, adds the Stockor Lineage from whence he descended, and that was from the Family of David; I will raise unto David a Righteous Branch. By which it appears, that the Melo fias was to be the Seed and Offspring of David ; and therefore he is often mention'd in Scripture as deriving his Pedegree from that Line, being frequently stild, the Son of David. The Prophet Ísaiah foretold, that there should come forth a Rod out of the Stem of Jesse, and a Branch Jhall grow out of its Root; Ifa. 11. 1. Which is by all Interpreters understood of Christ, callid therefore in the Prophecy of Zechary, The Man whose Name is the BRANCH, Zech.6, 12. Accordingly we find St. Matthem and St. Luke, in reckoning his Genealogy, both deriving his Pedegree from the Lineage of David; making yoseph his reputed Father, and Mary his Mother, to descend from that Stock: Mat. 1. Luke 24. Froni his Pedegree, fo carefully recorded in Scripture, proceed we,
Secondly, To the Description of his Person and Government, in these words; As a King shall be reign and prosper, and jn all execute Judgment and Justice upon Earth. Where three things are prophesy'd of the Mesias :
(1.) That he should be a King to reign over his People. (2.) That his Reign should be prosperous. And,
(3.) That his Reign should be just and righteous, being ever ready to execute Judgment and Fuft ice upon the Earth.
(1.) That the Messias was to be a king, and that he actually reign'd over Israel, is evident by the History both of the Old and New Testament. Zechary in his Prophecy
of our Saviour exprefly ftiles him King of Israel, Chap. 9.9. Rejoice, O Daughter of Zion; and mout, 0 Daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee! that is, to the House of Israel, or the People of the Jews. The Prophet Isaiah declares, that the Government was to be on his soulders, calling him, The Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlast ing Father, the Prince of Peace ; Ifa. 9. 67. And nothing is more common in all the Prophets, than to stile the Meflias the Lord of Hofts, and the King of Israel. And the same is the frequent Language of the New Testament: Where is he that is born King of the Jews? say the Wisemen upon the Birth of Christ, Mat. 2. 2. Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel ; faid Nathaniel, John 1.49. Pilate asking him, Art thou a King then? he answerd, Thou Sayeft it : meaning, that he said true, for so he was.
(2.) And as he reign'd as a King, so was his Reign prof perous; He Mall reign and prosper. Which is a Prophecy of the Glory and Extent of his Kingdom, that it should reach over the world, and extend to all the Ends of the Earth. Of the Increase of his Government and Peace, there fi all be no end, faith the Prophet Isaiah : The Zeal' of the Lord of Hofts will perform it, Chap.9. 8. And elsewhere, that the Pleasure of the Lord should fo prosper in his hand, that his Kingdom should reach unto all Parts, and his Dominion to all Ages.
(3.) And as he should reign and prosper, fo should he execute Judgment and Justice in the Earth : that is, his Reign hould be not only glorions, but just and righteous ; doing Right to all, and equally distributing both Rewards and Punishments. So the Prophet Isaiah foretold, that he fhould fit upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order and to establish it with Judgment and Justice; Isa. 9. 8.
All which things are to be understood, not of any temporal Kingdom, as if he were to reign here in the transitory Glory and Splendor of an earthly Monarch; but of a spiritual Kingdom, or a Kingdom within us, whereby he reigns in our Hearts by Faith, and governs us by his holy Spirit. This he told his Disciples himself, when suing to him for earthly Profits and Preferments, he reply'd to then, that his Kingdom was not of this World, but his Business was to purchase and prepare for them a better ; and to that end he came not so much to make them great as good, and by Grace to advance then to Glory, to triumph
over the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and to make all their Foes their Footstool. This the Psalmist foretold of his Kingdom, that a Scepter of Righteousness was to be the Scepter of his Kingdom, Psal. 45. 62. which the Apostle applies to the just Exercise of his Regal Power, in fuccouring the Faithful, and punishing the obdurate Refifters of his Will; Heb. 1. 8. In this fense it is that he is said to reign as a King, his Empire being not fo much over the Bodies, as the Souls of Men, where he rules by his holy Spirit, and subdues all his and our Enemies; in which he is likewife said to prosper, all Nations coming in, and being made subject to him: His Dominion is from Sea to Sea, and his Power reaches over all Lands. In a word, he reigns over all the Princes and Potentates of the Earth, who veil their Crowns to his Crofs, and submit their Scepters to his Scepter of Righteousness: for which reason he is stil'd King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; all inferiour Princes reigning by his Power, and decreeing Justice by his Authon rity : So that all the Help that is done upon Earth, be doth it himself. And this will lead me to confider,
Thirdly, The great Blessings that accrue by the Coming of the Messias, and they are set forth in the next words ; In his days Judah Mall be saved, and Israel Mall dwell Safely. Salvation and Peace are two of the greatest Blessings that can befal a People ; they relate to the Welfare both of Body and Soul, and that not only in the Life that now is, but in that which is to come. To live in Peace and Safety, is the great Comfort and Happiness of this Life; and to be fav'd at last, is the Joy and Blessedness of the next : both these are here prophesy'd and promis’d_at the Coming of the Messias, and particularly to the Tribe of Judah and the House of Israel, from both which he de. scended. Accordingly we read that Christ came unto his oton ; that is, to the Jews, who were of his own Tribe, Stock, and Nation, and of them he was sent first to the Loft Sheep of the House of Israel, to reduce the wandring Jews, and bring Salvation to Ifrael; for he tells us, that he came to seek, and to save them that were loft. After which he enlarg'd his Favour, and extended it to the Gen: tiles also, according to the Prophecy, that to him mould the gathering of the People be, and he should become the Desire and Saviour of all Nations,
But how is Judah said to be sav'd, and Israel to dwell in safety, when neither the one hath receiv'd Salvation, nor is the other restor’d to their own Country or Kingdom?
In answer to this, we must note, that there were some of the Jews and Israelites, that wilfully rejected Christ, the righteous Branch of the House of David ; and said with them in the Parable, We will not have this Man to reign over us, and so obstinately thrust Salvation from them : These were they of whom St. John speaks, when he came unto his
receiv'd him not , and 'tis no wonder if they miss of Mercy and Salvation, who wilfully refuse and cast it from them. But to as many as receiv'd him (faith the same Evangelist) to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to as many as believ'd in his Name; John 1. 12. They that came to him were fav’d by him; and for others that would not, it could not be expected. Besides, St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, hath expounded Judab and Israel in a spiritual and nystical sense, for those that are truly and by Faith fuch: For be is not a Jeto (faith he) that is one outwardly, neither is that Circumçision, that is outward in the Flesh; but he is a few that is one inwardly,, and Circumcision is that of the Heart ; Rom, 2. 28. Neither are they all Ifrael, that are of Israel; Rom. 9.6. where the Apostle makes the name of Jew or Judah to signify a Follower of the Faith of Abraham; and a true Ifraclite to be one like Nathaniel, in whose Spirit there is no Guile. Now 'tis to all, and only these, that the Promise of Peace and Salvation is here made: for such, by believe ing in Christ, as Abraham did, shall be fav'd by Faith, as he was; and being made righteous by this righteous Branch, shall grow up and live for ever in Peace and Safety. And this will lead me to the
Next thing propounded, viz. the Name or Title here given him; And this is his Name whereby be shall be calld, the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. In the Prophecy of Facob, he is stild SHILOH, that is, one that was to be sent. Moses calls him the great PROPHET, that was to reveal his Father's Will. In the Pro phecy of Isaiah, he is calld EMMANUEL, which lig: nifies God with us: And here the Prophet Feremy stiles him, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS implying, that he is not only infinitely righteous in hin